Don’t Expand Medicaid

Perhaps it is time for Ohioans to question the wisdom of implementing President Obama’s Medicaid expansion plans for the existing system, which is inefficient and flawed. According to the Heritage Foundation, with the expansion, “Ohio would see increased spending in the first five years by $407 million and an increase on the budget by around $1 billion total by 2022 in the first scenario.

Under a flat 90-percent match rate, costs increase from $407 million to nearly $1.3 billion in the first five years. Under the blended rate (an average of a state’s current Medicaid match), costs increase to $2.5 billion in the first five years.”

Exacerbating the problem, Obama’s 2013 budget already includes reducing the federal government share of the Medicaid expansion Gov. Kasich is promoting. The Obama administration is shifting future debt to the states, essentially hiding the unsustainable cost of Obamacare. Medicaid now consumes 27 percent of Ohio’s budget and that number is growing faster than any other section of state spending. Why would Ohio representatives saddle taxpayers with this unrestrained debt by expanding the current inefficient system?

Numerous studies have demonstrated that Medicaid patients receive inferior access to health care and have less successful outcomes than privately insured patients. Gov. Kasich should drop the idea of accepting money borrowed from China to expand an inefficient system and leaving Ohioans stuck with the bill.

There are better alternatives to the Obama Medicaid expansion for Ohio. For example, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush advanced the patient-centered Florida Medicaid Reform Pilot program in 2005 and this ongoing program is now producing better access, improved patient outcomes and more satisfied patients at reduced cost.

In a promising report published by the Heritage Foundation, Terren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability in Naples, Fla., says a “tectonic shift” has taken place with the Florida Medicaid Reform Pilot program that produced better health outcomes, high patient satisfaction and all at significantly lower cost than the existing Medicaid system.

The Ohio legislators should look at the evidence and tell Gov. Kasich there are healthier options for the people.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the Florida Medicaid Pilot program “maintained health outcomes at or above the national average” and “achieved patient satisfaction levels above the national average of other state Medicaid programs or even HMOs and restrained costs, flattening the cost curve.”

The Heritage Foundation has documented a significant fiscal impact from this pilot program, “saving Florida Medicaid up to $161 million annually” and if implemented statewide it could “reduce Medicaid spending $1.9 billion annually.” The savings nationwide could reach $91 billion a year.

Medicaid provides an irrefutable example of government’s continued failure to keep up with private sector health care. Poor access and second-rate health outcomes are characteristic of Medicaid and it is unclear why Ohio should expand this poorly performing model and push more unsuspecting people into it. If patient access, better care and outcomes at less cost are the goals, state lawmakers should turn down the expansion and fix the current system.

Florida lawmakers rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed Medicaid expansion and are seeking federal government waivers that will allow statewide Medicaid reform to take place without the expensive expansion.

On Nov. 8, 2011, Ohioans rejected Obamacare with a majority vote in all 88 counties and Gov. Kasich has a clear mandate not to implement the expansion.

Kasich should heed the people’s vote and the unpromising facts associated with Obama’s ominous Medicaid expansion.

Connors is a former radio broadcaster and external affairs officer for the California Department of Transportation. He resides in Bridgeport.